The role of TSH receptor antibodies in the management of Graves' disease

Eur J Intern Med. 2011 Jun;22(3):213-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2011.02.006. Epub 2011 Mar 22.


The central role of thyrotropin receptor antibodies (TRAbs) in the pathogenesis of Graves' disease has been recognised for several decades. However, the practical application of testing for TRAbs in clinical decision making remains the subject of controversy. The diagnosis of Graves' disease can be made in most cases simply based on a patient's clinical presentation. The TRAb test is therefore of most value in ambiguous clinical scenarios such as in the differential diagnosis of unilateral exophthalmos, euthyroid Graves' ophthalmopathy, subclinical hyperthyroidism, thyrotoxicosis associated with hyperemesis gravidarum, amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis and painless thyroiditis. It may also have a role in predicting the risk of a recurrence of Graves' disease following a course of antithyroid drug treatment. One further clinical utility of the TRAb test is in pregnancy where antibody titre measured during the third trimester is used to predict the risk of neonatal thyroid dysfunction. The TRAb titre not only aids in clinching a difficult diagnosis but can also help guide treatment in some patients. Although the TRAb assay has become more affordable in recent years, cost remains an important factor when considering its use routinely. Nonetheless, this is an underutilised blood test that could augment standard endocrine investigations in the differential diagnosis of hyperthyroidism.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Graves Disease* / diagnosis
  • Graves Disease* / epidemiology
  • Graves Disease* / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins, Thyroid-Stimulating / blood*
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Thyrotropin / immunology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies


  • Biomarkers
  • Immunoglobulins, Thyroid-Stimulating
  • Receptors, Thyrotropin